April 14, 2021 12:09:12 am
SECURITY GUARDS struggled to ensure physical distancing as relatives of those down with Covid-19 and being treated at the dedicated Covid-19 hospital (DCH) on the campus of the Pandit Deendayal Upadhaya Hospital in Rajkot, made desperate attempts to talk to patients through video calls from a help desk set up by the hospital administration on the ground of adjoining AS Chaudhary High School, on Monday afternoon.
While the meele continued at the help desk, an ambulance ferrying a suspected case of Covid-19 would pass by every now and then and head straight towards the DCH set up in the multi-specialty block in the PDU Hospital.
But the ambulances would wait outside the gate for a while as around half-a-dozen other ambulances with similar patients had already queued up outside the flu OPD just beside the porch of the seven-storey super-specialty block.
While the queue of ambulances ferrying suspected patients of Covid-19 was not as long Monday as it used to be two-three days ago, the flu OPD and those managing the government-run PDU Hospital, popularly called Rajkot civil hospital, had little respite.
“At any time of the day, around 50 staff members, including doctors, paramedics and technicians, keep the flu OPD going. But the real problem is upstairs, in the wards of Covid hospital, where virtually all beds have remained occupied for the past five-six days. Given that infections have spread so far and wide in almost all districts and an RT-PCR test result takes up to three days, we are more depending on clinical assessment of patients and rapid antigen tests these days. Even if the antigen test returns negative, we are admitting those assessed clinically severe and keep them testing later on for Covid-19. The only thing we are bothered these days is to assess a patient as ICU-patient or non-ICU,” a doctor of the PDU Hospital told The Indian Express on Monday on the condition of anonymity.
The DCH in the civil hospital, the biggest such facility in Saurashtra after the GG Hospital in Jamnagar, has 808 beds for Covid-19 patients. Out of them, around 100 are ICU beds while scores of others are mini-ICU and oxygen (O2) beds. “Those assessed as non-ICU are referred either to the Cancer Hospital or Samras Hostel. Patients who improve clinically after treatment in the civil hospital are also being referred to other centres to make beds available to serious patients,” the doctor further said, adding around 50 per cent patients being treated in the DCH were from Morbi district.
Senior doctors of the hospital admit the healthcare system has been overwhelmed. “Now, the situation is out of control. All we can do is to keep doing our best,” said a doctor.
The scenario is culmination of a sudden and rapid surge in Covid-19 cases in Rajkot city. Till the third week of March, Rajkot Municipal Corporation used to report around 50 fresh cases per day. The number crossed 500 confirmed infections on Monday. Adjoining districts like Morbi have also seen a spurt in cases. The situation is compounded by capacity limitations at crematoriums in cremating bodies with Covid-19 protocols in the city.
“While I concede, ambulances have to wait in queues, especially between 1 pm and 3 pm and around midnight to 3 am, they certainly not have to wait for hours as is being reported by some sections of the media. While they wait their turn to take patients to the flu OPD, the hospital staff checks patients inside ambulances and starts their treatment there itself. We are doing our best to ensure that everyone gets medical treatment,” additional collector Mehul Dave, who has been given charge of the civil hospital, said.
Phone calls and text messages to Dr Radheshyam Trivedi, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, went unanswered.
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